Catholics in Central Europe are responding with outrage after the Slovak bishops spoke out against conscientious objections for COVID-19 vaccines in late December.
The Church Militant reports hundreds of Catholics have signed a petition accusing the bishops in Slovakia of “stubbornly walking in harmony with the secular world” and rejecting individuals’ “sovereign right to be guided by their conscience.”
Opinions about the new COVID-19 vaccines vary widely even among many Catholics and pro-life advocates. Some object to the vaccine because it is new and the long-term effects and risks are unknown, and others cannot in good conscience take a vaccine that has been developed and/or tested with cell lines created from aborted babies. Others strongly support the vaccine because it can save lives.
In their December statement, the Slovak bishops said the abortion connection is not reason enough for a conscientious objection.
Because the vaccines’ “connection to abortion is so remote … no one who is vaccinated commits sin,” the bishops said. “… In the world in which we live, unfortunately, it is not possible to achieve absolute discontinuity with sin in everything we do.”
“A conscientious objection concerns conduct which is, in essence, wrong,” they continued, according to the Church Militant. “If someone rejects [the vaccine], they cannot invoke a conscientious objection” for “even conscience can be wrong.”
The Rev. Martin Kramara, a spokesman for the bishops, said laws put in place to protect people’s safety must be considered.
“If someone decides to drive on the left in a country where everyone drives on the right, they cannot invoke freedom of conscience,” Kramara said. He pointed out that the bishops do support conscientious objection rights for doctors who refuse to do abortions or euthanasia.
Here’s more from the interview:
Most consumer products used by Catholics “demonstrably have some connection with the sinful actions of other people,” even with “serious and ruthless actions,” Kramara argued, pointing to the exploitation of children in mining cobalt for mobile phones.
“If we were to assess everything else as strictly as some of the COVID-19 vaccines, we would not only have to stop taking conventional medicines, but also, in essence, leave society and return to growing our own food, making our own clothes (of course without machines) and so on,” he noted.
But many Catholics in the country disagree. They accused the bishops of conforming to the “secular world” by refusing to support conscientious objection rights for the new COVID-19 vaccines.
“We Slovak Catholics are scandalized by your attitudes,” their petition states. “Conscience cannot be replaced by orders, prohibitions, ideologies, doctrines, decrees or recommendations. … Everyone has the sovereign right to be guided by their conscience.”
Their objections have to do with the unknown effects of the vaccine as well as its connection to abortion. The petition notes that the vaccine is still experimental and “even the manufacturers cannot guarantee the current safety” or know of any potential long-term consequences, according to the report.
The Catholic petitioners quoted the Nuremberg Code, which was established in response to the horrific experiments conducted on human beings in Nazi concentration camps. The code states that “the voluntary consent of the human subject” is “absolutely essential” for experimental medicine.
They also quoted Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Dominum et Vivificantem,” which states, “From a theological point of view, moral conscience in man is ‘a gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Despite petitions and protests against vaccine mandates, restrictions on the unvaccinated are growing across Europe. According to the Church Militant, the chairman of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union said last week that Catholic churches should ban unvaccinated people from participating in Mass and other sacraments.
About a year ago, the Vatican declared that it is morally acceptable for Catholics to take vaccines even if they use cell lines create from aborted babies because of the vaccines’ life-saving impact.
Other Catholic and pro-life leaders, however, argue that any connection between the vaccines and the killing of unborn babies in abortions is immoral.
None of the vaccines contain cells from aborted babies, but they all have links to abortion, some more-so than others.
The companies Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca used cell lines created from babies who were aborted decades ago in the development and testing of their vaccines. The connections between abortion and the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are much more limited, with cell lines created from aborted babies used only in testing the products.
The Charlotte Lozier Institute has a list of the vaccines with information about whether cell lines created from aborted babies were used in testing and/or production. Find it here.